VVD scraps advert with Holocaust images

20th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

20 May 2005, AMSTERDAM — The Liberal VVD party in the European Parliament quickly abandoned plans on Friday to use the Jewish Holocaust in a television commercial aimed at convincing Dutch voters to approve the EU Constitution.

20 May 2005

AMSTERDAM — The Liberal VVD party in the European Parliament quickly abandoned plans on Friday to use the Jewish Holocaust in a television commercial aimed at convincing Dutch voters to approve the EU Constitution.

The VVD leader in the European Parliament, Jules Maaten, said MEPs decided against using the commercial in consultation with the party base in the Netherlands.

Maaten said the party and MEPs now realise the commercial "evokes negative feelings while we want to wage a positive debate".

The controversial VVD commercial was to be broadcast on 14 regional television stations in the Netherlands starting from Saturday.

The 20-second commercial was to start with an image of the Holocaust with the text: 'This never again! Start of European Co-operation 1952'.

A shed full of some of the bodies of the 8,000 Muslim men and boys killed by Serb troops at Srebrenica in 1995 would have been shown next with the text 'The danger lies in waiting'.

The UN-declared safe haven was under the protection of Dutch forces when it was invaded. The resulting massacre was the worst mass slaughter in Europe since World War II.

The commercial was also to show a photo of a shattered train carriage from the Madrid bombings last year with the text: 'A future of peace, safety and prosperity! A European Constitution'.

The advert ended with a VVD politician urging the Dutch public to vote 'yes' at the 1 June referendum on the constitution.

"If we want Europe to continue taking care of peace, liberty and prosperity, it must become more decisive and democratic. Vote for the constitution."

At a press conference explaining the commercial on Friday, MEP Maaten said the VVD wanted to demonstrate the issue of the constitution was important.

Christian Democrat CDA Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner recently said what occurred in the Balkans could happen again if Europe rejected the constitution. He was quickly forced to moderate his statement.

But Maaten said the VVD commercial was different. "We are not saying that a war will result from a 'no vote'. But we are saying: 'look at what Europe has achieved'," he said.

VVD Lower House MP Hans van Baalen was adamant that the commercial was a true blunder.

"Time and time again I have declared that the constitution is better than the old treaties, but that of course there will be no war," he said.

"Everyone who wants to can and may vote no. But on common sense grounds I advise against that. I want a campaign based on facts and not based on false emotions," he said.

The VVD is part of the coalition government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who is fighting an uphill battle to convince the public to back the constitution. Recent polls are indicating the public will reject the constitution.

Despite the fact the referendum is advisory, major political parties the Christian Democrat CDA and Labour PvdA have said they will respect the public's decision when they come to vote on the constitution in the Dutch Parliament.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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